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Business networking for HR is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.

Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For HR the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.

Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.

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It is how as a HR we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.

Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.

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Networking may not be enjoyable to some people but we can always make it fun and profitable for businesses. The following are just some of my tips to share with you how you can get the most out of your next networking session:

1. Know the location -It helps to know where the event is going to be held beforehand. It is both frustrating and embarrassing to appear in the wrong place and keep calling the host who is busy talking to his / her guest.

2. Always arrive early - If you can follow this, you will make it as a top networker in no time. I always respect people who turn up not only on time, but well before the event starts. Arriving early is not only for show, you can have a great opportunity by connecting with the host and guest speakers (if any).

3. Bring more name cards -Bringing more name cards can make a difference at times. In a professional business event, it is embarrassing to tell people that you run out of name cards. If the event is expecting 100 people, bring 150 name cards. You will need them for something you will not expect - lucky draws, subscriptions and unexpected turnouts etc.

4. Get to know the host - Most networking events are hosted by certain organization and associations, part of the reason to arrive early is also to have time to talk to the host and tell them what you do (if this is the first meetup). As a host, we respect people who turn up early. This is also an excellent time asking the host if they know of someone who can help or work hand in hand with your business.

5. Find out who will be attending the event - This works if you have a way to know who will be attending the event. If the event is displayed via Facebook or Meetup.com, then you will be able to know who may be attending (via the guest list). After you know who will be attending, spend some time going through their websites and prepare some small talk topic when you meet them. You may even find a common interest between you and the person that will be attending the event =)

6. Prepare your 10 seconds 'what you do' pitch - To be honest, no one is interested in what you do in most networking events. If you fail to impress people during the initial 10 seconds of interaction, you will have to work harder to make yourself memorable. One tip I have here is to stress on the benefit when people ask 'What you do for a living?'. If you are an Accountant, don't reply saying that you are an accountant, just mention that you help businesses to cut down as much as 20% (or some statistics that is realistic) of their costs. An Entrepreneur with common sense will be eager to hear more and ask you how they can do that!

7. It is better to overdress - If you can't figure out the dress code for the event, just dress formally. It won't hurt by overdressing in most events. Appearing in formal dress code also signifies that you respect the host and VIPs of the event. Overdress will also make you memorable for most people especially the host.

8. Advertising Zone? - It is also important to ask the organizer if there is any way to share the benefits that your business will bring to the attendees on the event. Some business networking events will have some sort of 'Advertising Zone' that allows you to place your marketing materials for exposure. Some even have business booth.

9. Identifying the top 3 trades you need - Most businesses cannot survive on their own without forming alliances with leads flowing from one to another. For example, Corporate Services Provider works pretty well with Web Designers, IT Support Companies and Accountants. You need to place the top 3 trades that you are looking for on top of your mind at all times. Doing so will make it easier for you to connect with someone who is in the trade that you are looking for on any networking event.

10. Find out and participate in the event theme - Some monthly or Bi-monthly events do organize networking themes at times. For example, an event may request everyone to turn up with red-white theme in the month of Aug (Singapore National Day). Have fun and participate in the theme for the event. Participating in the theme also show that you are giving support to the host or organizer.

Sounds easy? Try them out in your next networking opportunity!

Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.

Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.

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Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.

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A Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) is also a Certified Meeting Professional CMP. The certification is offered by the Convention Industry Council. It is not easy to become a Certified Meeting Planner as the certification demands education as well as experience. The Certified Meeting Planner certification is the most prestigious certification of the meetings, conferences, symposiums and expositions industry. The certificate is awarded to only those people who have accomplished the highest level of proficiency in meeting planning. The Convention Industry Council launched the Certified Meeting Planner program in 1985.What It TakesAs has been mentioned earlier, it is not easy to become a Certified Conference Planner. Every aspirant for the certificate has to be a high-performer and very knowledgeable not only about the meeting planning process but also about corporate matters in general. They also have to be eager to understand the nuances and the art and science of meeting planning and management and enthusiastic about upgrading their existing knowledge of meeting planning. Aspirants also have to be aware of best practices and ethics in the business of meeting management and must show keenness to devise newer methods for better meeting coordination and management. The aim of the Certified Meeting Professional Certification is to enable the Certified Meeting Planner to add value to the meeting-management process, to take strategic decisions, to act ethically, and to add a new stimulus to the meeting process.The Certified Event Planner program or the certified event planner course encourages participants to continue with their education or jobs, augment their contribution to the industry, and achieve credit and recognition for their contribution across industries. The Certified Event or Meeting Planner credential is awarded on the basis of experience in industry and a tough written examination. Selection procedures are pretty rigorous. Presently, there are about 15,000 people placed in over 30 countries who have attained the Certified Meeting Planner certificate.Essential Criteria for Becoming a Certified Conference PlannerA bachelor's degree is not compulsory for the certificate but it obviously improves your chances of becoming a Certified Meeting Planner apart from increasing your demand in the job market. Aspirants must have at least three years of experience at the industrial level. All candidates are screened by the Convention Industry Council before they are allowed to sit for the examination. Candidates must score a minimum of 90 out of 150 points to be eligible to sit for the examination. The points are awarded to the candidates according to how they fare in the following categories:Management Responsibility has a maximum of 50 points allotted to it Experience in Meeting Planning has a maximum of 35 points allotted to it Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning has a maximum of 30 points allotted to it Education and Continuing Education has a maximum of 25 points allotted to it Professional Association/Organization Memberships has a maximum of 10 points allotted to itManagement Responsibility and Experience in Meeting Planning have been given more weightage than Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning, Education and Continuing Education and Professional Association/Organization Memberships because it is felt that these two aspects are the real indicators of whether or not a person is a capable meeting planner.The examination for Certified conference planners or certified event planners is conducted twice a year by the Convention Industry Council. Conference planners who are keen to work with the government and keen to become Certified Government Meeting Planners should take the Certified Government Meeting Professional examinations that are conducted by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.Benefits of the CertificationA Certified Meeting Planner obviously enjoys several advantages. The Certified Meeting or Conference Planner certification brands the holder of the certificate as a professional with a lot of experience and who has displayed unique skills and who possesses a vast amount of knowledge. The certification testifies to the efficiency and authenticity of the holder. Consequently, the career prospects of a Certified Meeting or Event Planner are much better and brighter than those of ordinary meeting planners. Certified Meeting Planners have more scope to demonstrate their expertise in large symposiums and conferences as they have acquired the certified meeting planner training.A Certified Meeting Planner is instantaneously recognized by other Certified Meeting or Conference Planners who belong to an association of certified planners and who are all dedicated to the progress of the meeting planning process. A Certified Meeting Planner can obviously charge more than ordinary meeting planners and event managers for his or her services. As the certification stands for a high degree of professionalism, business intelligence and skill, a Certified Meeting Planner is stamped throughout his or her life as an extremely goal-oriented professional.

Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible HR you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.

Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for HR to build relationships and expand your network.

Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.